Sorry to hear you're having problems.
If you're using all the default settings & don't use any extra plugins,
then I honestly don't know what the problem can be.
Please include your full system specs in any reply.
(CPU + speed, RAM, Win OS, Soundcard, Videocard, DirectX, IE version, etc)
I've already mentioned all the relevant Winamp settings above . . .
. . . I'm pretty much stumped from thereon.
It could be an incompatibility issue, or a conflict/problem caused by one of the other default input plugins, or possibly the MPEG Audio Decoder itself?
All I can say is that I & 1000's of others don't experience this problem with 2.72
My fairly large playlist loads instantly, tho' it ain't half as big as yours
In the meantime, maybe someone else might come along with more suggestions for a fix?
If you'd like to return to an earlier version, eg 2.71, goto:
Re: disabling ID3v2
There may well be tools that can batch modify this setting, but with Winamp you'll have to modify each mp3 track individually
via : playlist entry -> right click -> file info.
This will bring up the ID3 tag editor for each track. The ID3 tag is actually written into the header of each file. If you've enabled both v1 & v2, then simply uncheck the use of v2. If you want to copy v2 to v1, click the relevant radio button at the bottom. Make sure none of the actual mp3's (or their containing folders) are Read-Only, otherwise you won't be able to modify the ID3 tags.
Best of luck, and I'm sorry I couldn't be of more assistance
Honestly, I tried my damnedest!
Winamp 3 is on the way, tho' there may well be one or two more 2.x versions b4.